Wheaten Terrier in grass.
An Irish Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier in grass. (Photo: slowmotiongli via Canva)

Table of Contents

The Charming Irish Terrier Dog Breed

The Irish Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier was the last of the nine Irish breeds to be recognised by the Irish Kennel Club in 1937. Perhaps it was a case of keeping the best until last as this loving, friendly dog breed is one that appeals to many. 

While this breed is named after its identifiable coat, its ability as a resourceful farm dog made the breed an enduring favorite for over 200 years in rural Ireland where it would need to earn its keep on the farm. 

Today Soft Coated Wheaten Terriers are found all over the world. It was only in the 1940s that the first dogs were important to the United States and this is where the largest numbers of the breed are now found. 

What other names do Irish Soft Coated Wheaten Terriers have?

Like many dog breeds, there are a few different dog names for Wheaten Terriers. The Irish Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier is the full name of the breed, but it is commonly referred to as the Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier (especially the dogs with the heavier coat type in the US and UK). 

The breed is also known as the:

  • Irish Wheaten Terrier
  • Irish Soft Wheaten Terrier
  • Irish Soft Haired Wheaten Terrier
  • Soft Wheaten Terrier
  • Wheatens 
  • Wheaties

The Irish name for the breed is Brocaire Buí.

Occasionally, the breed is incorrectly referred to as the Wheatland Terrier.

Are there different types of Wheatens terriers?

Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier is a single breed, but there are variations in the types of coat commonly seen in this dog breed. Variation in the coat types is most pronounced during the first few months of the dog’s life. 

Irish Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier with Irish Coat

The healthy shine of the Wheaten's coat can clearly be seen here.
The healthy shine of the Wheaten’s coat can clearly be seen here. (Photo: slowmotiongli via Canva)

The original type of coat that the working dogs in Ireland had is typically called the “Irish” coat. The Irish Soft Coated Terrier’s coat has a soft, wavy and silky appearance and lies flatter against the body. This type of coat takes longer to mature and is most commonly seen in Ireland and other European countries. 

“The Aran Fisherman’s Drowned Child” painting by Frederic William Burton from 1841 shows little deviation in the appearance of the Wheaten from the Irish type coat today.

Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier with Heavy Coat

A Teddy Bear like Wheaten Terrier puppy.
A Teddy Bear like Wheaten Terrier puppy. (Photo. littleleny via Canva)

In contrast, the “North American”, “American” or “Heavy” coat which began to emerge soon after the dogs were first imported to the United States in the 1940s looks fuller, more angular and woolier than the Irish type. The American Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier coats also tend to be darker in color and mature earlier than the original type. 

A similar trend towards a heavier coat was also seen in English, thus also creating an English Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier type.

Fun Facts about the Irish Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier 

  1. While the Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier is one of the oldest Irish terrier breeds, it was the last to be officially recognised in 1937.
  2. Wheatens are the most popular of the four Irish terrier breeds and most popular Irish dog breed in the United States
  3. Soft Coated Wheaten Terriers are known for their “Wheaten Greetin”. This very affectionate and excitable breed is famous for their welcome greeting, which can involve generous face licks from the dog.
  4. This dog has a surprising ability to jump and is known for its bounciness. (The bounce is also one of the signature moves in the “Wheaten Greetin”.)
  5. Puppies are usually born with a darker coat that will require up to 2.5 years to mature into a final wheaten colored coat

Irish Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier Breed Characteristics

How tall is an Irish Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier?

Portrait of a Wheaten Terrier
Portrait of a Wheaten Terrier. (Photo: cpaulfell via Canva)

How big is a wheaten terrier? When it comes to size of the male vs female wheaten terrier, the male is a bit larger. 

Male Soft Coated Wheaten Terriers are typically about 47 cm or 18.5 inches, while females are slightly smaller at about 45 cm or 17.5 inches.

(This is roughly the same range as an American Staffordshire Terrier.)

What does an Irish Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier weigh?

About 17 kg (37.5 lbs) is a typical male Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier weight. A bitch weighs around 14.5 kg (32.5 lbs)

(This is roughly the same as a American Water Spaniel for example).

What does an Irish Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier look like?

Wheaten Terriers are athletic dogs.
Wheaten Terriers are athletic dogs. (Photo: Svetlanistaya via Canva)

The Irish Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier is a medium sized dog and one of the long legged terriers from Ireland (The native Irish terriers are: Irish Terrier, Kerry Blue Terrier and the Glen of Imaal Terrier). 

Some people describe the dog as having a blocky appearance. The dog is undoubtedly sturdy, with muscular legs, a straight back, and a deep chest

The head of the Irish Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier is broad, with a long beard under the muzzle and blonde tuft of hair, known as a fau, on the top of its head that tends to droop over their faces. Ears from this breed point towards the medium sized-almond eyes of this dog. 

In certain places, the tail is docked for aesthetic reasons. (This practice has been banned in Ireland since 2014). When the tail is not docked, it is typically carried upright. 

Irish Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier Coat

This dog breed’s crowning feature is its coat. This soft haired wheaten terrier has a wavy single coat that is astonishingly soft to touch and not at all wiry. It flows as the dog walks and the silky nature of the hair reflects the light

Puppies need plenty of grooming when their coats start to transition.
Puppies need plenty of grooming when their coats start to transition. (Photo: Ekatarina Gorokhova via Canva)

While the Wheaten Terrier soft coated hair does not shed much unlike other dogs such as the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, the coat is inclined to mat and requires daily grooming, particularly when a pup transitions to its adult coat from about 8-24 months.

The coat is medium length, but will need to be trimmed as it will otherwise keep growing. To reduce the amount of maintenance, some owners opt to keep the coat very short. 

What color is an Irish Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier?

When mature, an Irish Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier is wheaten in color. This color only gradually appears in the coat as the dog matures to a full grown Wheaten Terrier and can take up to 2.5 years

What do Irish Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier puppies look like?

An Irish Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier with a dark colored muzzle. (Photo: Ekaterina Gorokhova via Canva)

The puppy Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier looks considerably different to the adult dog of the Wheaten breed. 

First of all the coat of a Wheaten Terrier puppy is considerably darker than that of an adult and is not wheaten in color. Puppies are born with coats that are usually either red, brown or white

The brown or black Wheaten Terrier muzzle is a common feature in puppies. It is only when the puppy reaches maturity that the true wheaten color of the breed can be seen. 

The heavy type coat associated with the Wheaten pups from the United States appears lavish and full, giving the young dogs a teddy bear look. 

What dogs are similar to the Irish Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier?

The Kerry Blue Terrier has some coat similarities to the Irish Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier. (
The Kerry Blue Terrier has some coat similarities to the Irish Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier. (Photo: Capturelight via Canva)

The Kerry Blue Terrier is one of the dogs similar to Soft Coated Wheaten Terriers and is thought to be one of the descendants of the breed. 

Usually the Kerry Blue Terriers are slightly taller than the Wheatens, but there are many similarities between them including their soft, single coats.

There is also likely to be some shared ancestry between the Irish Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier and the Irish Terrier as well. As there were no formal records kept for Irish terriers before the mid to late 19th century, it is difficult to trace the origins exactly and there was likely to have been plenty of mixed crosses. 

Irish Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier Maintenance

Wheaten Terriers
Different coat types of Wheaten Terriers (Photos: (l) Capturelight, (r) Svetlanistaya via Canva)

Irish Soft Coated Wheaten Terriers need a considerable amount of dog care maintenance to stay in top condition. The amount of maintenance does vary slightly depending on their age. While their coat needs considerable care throughout their lives, the most intensive period when the coat of the young dog is transitioning to that of an adult requires daily brushing is 

Maintenance such as good dental hygiene, nail trimming and ear checks to ensure no infections need to be carried out very regularly.

Does an Irish Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier need much grooming?

Yes, this breed needs a considerable amount of grooming. The grooming is particularly intensive when the coat changes from that of a puppy to an adolescent coat. This happens between roughly 8-24 months, (this takes longer with the Irish type coat). 

During this time, the dog will need to be brushed daily to prevent the hair from matting.On the plus side, the coat does not shed or smell much and is kept in good condition with regular grooming. 

Shaved, short haired wheaten terriers require less grooming and coat maintenance, which is something that some owners opt for. Without regular trimming, a long haired wheaten Terrier will soon be brushing the floor with its golden colored locks as the hair does not stop growing at a certain length. 

As the Wheaten Terrier’s soft coated hair tends to soak up moisture, it is very important to regularly check the dog’s ears for signs of infections that can arise from moist hair. 

Is the coat of an Irish Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier hypoallergenic?

Wheaten Terrier
Wheaten Terrier (Photo: Svetlanistaya via Canva)

The coat of the Irish Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier does not shed much and also does not produce much dander when it is regularly brushed. Many people consider the Irish Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier to be hypoallergenic as owners with allergies have found that this breed does not trigger strong or any symptoms. 

The Water Spaniel Irish breed also is another dog from Ireland that has a coat suitable for people with dog hair allergies. 

How long do Irish Soft Coated Wheaten Terriers live for?

Generally, an Irish Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier can live to be between 12-14 years of age. This life expectancy is similar to other dogs breeds, such as the Terrier Miniature Pinscher. 

If you are wondering when do Wheaten Terriers calm down, you are in for a long waitas they often they can retain their puppylike energy and playful enthusiasm until their latter years.
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Are Irish Soft Coated Wheaten Terriers healthy?

Portrait of a Wheaten.
Portrait of a Wheaten. (Photo: sjallenphotography via Canva)

Some health issues do occasionally arise in Irish Soft Coated Wheaten Terriers. These mostly tend to be heritable diseases such as the protein wasting illnesses of protein-losing nephropathy (PLN) and protein-losing enteropathy (PLE). (The first involves losing protein via the kidneys, while the latter involves the loss of protein from the stool.) 

Early intervention is important to ensure that these conditions are managed as they can otherwise be fatal. These issues were particularly prevalent in the 1980s before some dogs were bred out with the Irish type dogs.

Other health issues associated with this breed include renal dysplasia, Addison’s disease and some food and skin allergies

Irish Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier Diet

Good quality dog food is necessary for Wheaten, this can either be commercially bought or a specific diet can be arranged in consultation with a vet. 

The amount of food each dog needs differs and can depend on how active and old the dog is, as well as the amount of exercise that it receives. It is always best to get the advice of a vet or animal health care specialist to determine your dog’s dietary requirements.

Please note: While offering a treat as a reward can be a good way to train acceptable behaviors, too many treats are not good for your dog and can lead to obesity issues. 

Irish Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier Exercise

Do Irish Soft Coated Wheaten Terriers need a lot of exercise?

Irish Soft coated Wheaten Terriers need moderate amounts of exercise as part of their overall pet care requirements. They were bred to be active farm dogs so they require plenty of activity to make sure that they burn off that excess energy on a daily basis. Even in old age, they can still have lots of energy!

As natural hunters, Irish Soft Coated Wheaten Terriers love a chase and once they spot something that looks like prey to them, it brings out those strong hunting instincts. 

A playful Wheaten Terrier in snow.
A playful Wheaten Terrier in snow. (Photo: Pfüderi via Canva)

A fenced garden where the dog can run around freely and safely is quite important. It is also worth noting that the fence should be a bit higher than you may think is necessary for a medium sized dog. Wheatens are agile jumpers and can easily jump over or dig under fences. This is the same for other dogs with a high wanderlust too, such as German Wirehaired Pointers and German Shorthaired Pointers.

Once a Wheaten gets enough exercise, they are happy to relax and lounge around. 

Tip: Many owners opt to clean and brush their dogs directly after some activity as the dog is more likely to be chilled and accommodating.

Are Irish Soft Coated Wheaten Terriers good off leash?

It is always best to keep an Wheaten Terrier on a leash when outside in a public area.
It is always best to keep an Wheaten Terrier on a leash when outside in a public area. (Photo: DipaliS via Canva)

No, it is strongly advised that Irish Soft Coated Wheaten Terriers remain on a leash in public areas where they could come in contact with potential game. 

Due to their instinctive prey drive, Wheatens are tempted to chase after anything that they consider prey. This could be small vermin which was one of the types of game they were bred to hunt for in rural Ireland, as well as squirrels, birds such as ducks or swans, deer or even fox. 

Dogs have also been known to chase cars when they are off a leash, so be extra careful around vehicles.

Even a well trained dog will be difficult to control once the game instinct becomes engaged. 

Do Irish Soft Coated Wheaten Terriers like to swim?

An Irish Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier swimming.
An Irish Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier swimming. (Photo: mariokeeneye via Canva)

Irish Soft Coated Wheaten Terriers can swim and many dogs thoroughly enjoy doing so. For those that do like it, swimming is a good form of exercise. 

Did you know?

While Irish Soft Coated Wheaten Terriers are not usually in the top ranks of the National Dock Diving Dog Championships in the United States, in 2016, Krista, a Soft coated Wheaten showed just how good this breed can be at this activity and came very close to making it to the top 10. Perhaps more Wheaten will follow in her footsteps!

Irish Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier Training

Two well behaved Wheaten Terriers on leashes.
Two well behaved Wheaten Terriers on leashes. (Photo: RS-Photography via Canva)

Like many terriers, the Irish Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier can be a bit strong willed. This is particularly evident when it comes to training this breed, which can be challenging. 

While these dogs are highly trainable, the right dog training methods are essential for a well disciplined dog. 

Training should start at an early age and will be most intense from around 8-24 months, when a puppy transitions to an adult. Consistency with the commands and firm, yet positive reinforcement are the key to training acceptable behavior in this breed. 

It is also important to socialize puppies with children, dogs and other family pets while they are young. The prey instinct is strong with this breed, so small pets that resemble prey such as rabbits and rodents should always be kept apart. 

In some families, Wheatens and cats can sometimes get along if the puppy is socialized early (but this does differ from dog to dog). Other breeds such as English Cocker Spaniels and Pembroke Welsh Corgis are more cat friendly, for example. 

Irish Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier Dog Sports

Wheaten Terriers are good at agility trials among other canine sports.
Wheaten Terriers are good at agility trials among other canine sports. (Photo: herreid via Canva)

Soft Coated Wheaten Terriers take part in a range of canine sports that challenge them both mentally and physically. These can include agility and herding trials, obedience and fly ball to mention just a few. 

Do Irish Soft Coated Wheaten Terriers make good watchdogs?

Wheatens are good watchdogs as they will alert their owners to the presence of strangers. However, this people oriented breed is particularly welcoming and friendly towards people, not just their owners and family so they do not make good watch dogs. In fact a stranger may also be treated to a Wheaten greetin’

Do Irish Soft Coated Wheaten Terriers bark a lot?

The Irish Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier does not tend to bark excessively and generally barks less frequently than other terrier breeds. 

This breed enjoys company and if left for long periods alone, they tend to become sad, depressed and destructive. Frequent barking is one of the ways this breed shows its frustration.

Irish Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier Temperament and Personality

Portrait of a Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier.
Portrait of a Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier. (Photo: slowmotiongli via Canva)

In contrast to other terriers, Irish Soft Coated Wheaten Terriers are a bit quieter and friendlier. They also tend to be less scrappy and get on with other dogs

A Wheaten that gets all the necessary love, attention, play and food is typically a very balanced, happy dog. Their inquisitive, fun loving, people oriented personality is easy to see. 

Each dog is of course quite different, some tend to be very willing companions, while others need a little more space for themselve. This is why it is important that an experienced breeder will help you find a dog with the right personality for you and your family. 

What are the main traits of an Irish Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier?

Cheerful, happy, high-spirited and fun loving, the Irish Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier is a bouncy, long-legged terrier who enjoys company. While they tend not to be snappy or scrappy like other terriers, they can certainly be challenging when it comes to training.

Wheatens were bred as versatile farm dogs involved in herding, hunting, rodent control, even today their resourceful, intelligent nature is very evident. 

Are Irish Soft Coated Wheaten Terriers a good first dog?

A heavy coated Wheaten Terrier.
A heavy coated Wheaten Terrier. (Photo: Ekaterina Gorokhova via Canva)

Irish Soft Coated Wheaten Terriers make good first dogs. They are friendly and loyal, as well as energetic. They get along with kids and are not as scrappy as other terriers sometimes tend to be. 

One of the main challenges for first time owners of am Irish Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier is training. Consistent training that focuses on positive reinforcement is essential for this dog. This breed responds best to coaxing rather than Harsh criticism. Once a dog is well trained, it will be a great life long companion.

Are Irish Soft Coated Wheaten Terriers good with children?

Yes, Irish Soft Coated Wheated Terriers are well suited to being around children. Their excitable, bouncy nature may be a little too boisterous for younger children, so the breed is probably better suited to slightly older children. 

Wheatens, like some other breeds like the English Springer Spaniel and Black Russian Terriers, are also very sensitive to teasing or harsh actions, which is also reason to suggest that families with older, more respectful children are best for this breed.

Are Irish Soft Coated Wheaten Terriers good family dogs?

A content Wheaten Terrier.
A content Wheaten Terrier. (Photo: Svetlanistaya via Canva)

The Wheaten dog makes a great family dog and are suited to living in apartments and homes (when they have sufficient exercise). 

They have friendly temperaments and get on well with kids. They have plenty of energy so are well suited to a family that will provide lots of fun, games and play. They are not well suited to being alone so the hustle and bustle of company all day suits this dog. 

Training Wheatens can be a bit of a challenge so it is essential that this sometimes headstrong breed is given clear and consistent rules to follow from a young age to ensure that the dog is a well behaved family member.

Are Irish Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier good service dogs?

While Irish Soft Coated Wheaten Terriers are very affectionate, intelligent dogs, they are also excitable and a little difficult to train. Generally, this breed is not often used as a service dog or therapy dog.

Do Irish Soft Coated Wheaten Terriers like to cuddle?

Yes, Irish Soft Coated Wheaten Terriers do enjoy cuddles and are happy for a tummy rub at the end of a long day. It is important that these dogs get the right amount of balance in their daily routine in terms of exercise, play and attention in order to be tired and relaxed in the evenings.

Are Irish Soft Coated Wheaten Terriers good with other dogs?

Two Wheaten Terriers
Two Wheaten Terriers (Photo: mariakbell via Canva)

Wheatens, like some other dog breeds including Jack Russell Terriers, can get on well with other dogs in general and enjoy their company if they are exposed to other canines from a young age. 

Early socialization is important to encourage this behavior so start training a Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier puppy early to instill this accepting behavior. The advantage to this is that more than one dog can be in the family and trips to the dog parks are a definite possibility with this breed. 

Are Irish Soft Coated Wheaten Terriers aggressive?

Wheatens are not usually aggressive in nature. While they will defensively bark loudly at the approach of a stranger, this said stranger is often likely to be warmly greeted which makes this breed a better watch dog as guard dog. 

In relation to other dogs, Wheatens often mix well and can play with other dogs without aggression. 

They can also handle a degree of rough handling with children without being snappy.

If you are wondering why is my Wheaten Terrier so aggressive, consider how you give your commands. Overly harsh or stern commands, may have a negative impact on this sensitive dog breed. 

Can you leave Irish Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier alone?

A Wheaten Terrier looks out on water.
A Wheaten Terrier looks out on water. (Photo: iamRobotfood via Canva)

Irish Soft Coated Wheaten Terriers should not be left alone for a long period as they tend to get anxious and depressed. This will manifest itself in frequent barking, chewing and a more introverted character. For example, it is not advisable to leave Wheaten dogs alone all day, while their owners are at work.

This breed enjoys the company of its owner and expects that company on a daily basis in the form of exercise, play and relaxing time. 

Do Irish Soft Coated Wheaten Terriers have a strong prey drive? 

For centuries, the Irish Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier was bred to help out in rural farms in Ireland. Dogs that had a strong prey drive and that were successful hunters would have been favored in such times. Not only would such dogs have been good at keeping vermin at bay like other hunting breeds like the Fox Terrier from the United Kingdom, they would also be able to supplement small prey as part of the family diet. 

Are Irish Soft Coated Wheaten Terriers rare?

A Wheaten Terrier performing at an agility trial.
A Wheaten Terrier performing at an agility trial. (Photo: herreid via Canva)

While the majority of Irish dog breeds are classified as vulnerable, the Irish Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier is not. Although it is possibly the best known of the terrier Irish breeds, it is not a particularly common breed

In the United Kingdom, Irish Wheaten terriers are classed as a vulnerable breed as there are less than 300 of them registered each year. In the United States they are the most common of all Irish dog breeds, but still rank outside the top 50 breeds (according to the 2021 AKC survey). 

Interesting statistics on the number of Irish Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier registrations, can be found on this website

Irish Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier Breed Clubs

Although the initial popularity of this breed was low, devoted owners all over the world have established Wheaten Terrier Breed Clubs. These websites often offer very good resources about the breed and can be a good reference if you want to find out more before you think of getting one of these dogs. 

They are also useful to check what breed related events are coming up (such as the AKC National Championship and AKC Rally National in the United States). Here are some of the main websites: 

Irish Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier Puppies for Sale

Wheaten terriers are a lovable, energetic breed that needs a suitable owner. (Photo: (l) Pfüderi, (r) ArmanWerthPhotography via Canva)

If you think that a Wheaten is the dog for you, and are looking for Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier puppies for sale near me, then the next step is finding reputable breeders in your general locality. 

Finding an experienced breeder will not only be a useful investment regarding the health and quality of the Wheaten pup, but also will ensure that a puppy with the right temperament to suit you will be placed in your care. 

Experienced breeders will just want to just offer you a Wheaten terrier puppy for sale, they will be happyfor you to visit their Irish Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier Kennel and answer the many questions that you should have if you are serious about taking a Wheaten into your home for the next 12-14 years. 

Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier Breeders

A tired Wheaten Terrier Puppy.
A tired Wheaten Terrier Puppy. (Photo: Ekaterina Gorokhova via Canva)

The national Kennel Club websites often have links to approved breeders of Soft Coated Wheaten Terriers, so too do the breed club sites. The following links are useful for people based in the US, UK, Canada and Australia who are looking for a Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier for sale. 

Irish Soft Coated Wheaten Terriers Breeders in Ireland

Wheaten dog breeders in Ireland tend to focus on the Irish type of coat. Irish Wheaten Terrier breeders are not very plentiful outside of Ireland and in Ireland their number are limited. 

As well as looking at the Irish Kennel Club puppies for sale section, Irish Coated Wheaten Terrier puppies for sale can also be researched via the Irish Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier Club.

Irish Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier Puppy Price

The price of a Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier varies considerably and will be determined by several factors. These factors include gender, bloodline, and location of the dog. 

As a general indication, the Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier price you should expect to pay between US$1000 and US$2500. Champion bloodlines often go for considerably higher prices. 

Irish Soft Coated Wheaten Terriers in Need and Irish Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier Adoption and Rescue 

A white coated Wheaten Terrier.
A white coated Wheaten Terrier. (Photo: Augustcindy via Canva)

Due to different circumstances, Irish Soft Coated Wheaten Terriers sometimes need rescuing or rehoming. A Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier rescue dog can make the perfect addition to a home.

The Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier UK Breed Club offers some very good advice when it comes to rehoming Wheatens. If you are considering getting a rescue dog, it is worth reading. 

Ths Soft Coated Wheaten Club of America also provides links to the main Wheaten rescue groups in the United States. 

The History of the Irish Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier

While the Wheatens have been mentioned as far back as 200 years ago, it seems that no one made much fuss about this particular breed. This may have been because of its use as a resourceful farm animal and the British laws that were in place in Ireland at the time. 

Only the wealthy were allowed to own large dogs, while peasants were only permitted to keep smaller dogs. Wheatens, although they may not look particularly remarkable, are very good at a wide range of tasks and earned their keep on farms in the past.

This Irish Wheaten dog breed was very much a well kept secret for a long time as the dog was imported to the UK in 1938 and the United States in 1947.

Irish Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier Origin

Like all Irish terrier breeds, the Irish Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier comes from somewhat unknown origins. Before the different Irish terrier breeds started to be standardized in the late 19th century, they ranged in size and color and there probably was a degree of crossing between them.

Irish Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier Working Dog

Wheaten Terriers were all-purposed dogs on Irish farms.
Wheaten Terriers were all-purposed dogs on Irish farms. (Photo: slowmotiongli via Canva)

As a general purpose working dog, Irish Soft Coated Wheatens would have been involved in all activities relating to farm life in rural Ireland as a home, field and mountain dog.

These tasks would have included herding livestock, such as sheep and protecting them from threats like a shepherd dog. Their skills as hunting dogs would have been used to catch game such as rabbit, fox, otter, badger (like other hunting breeds like the Dandie Dinmont Terrier from Scotland) that could have supplemented the family’s diet

Keeping rats and mice at bay would have been another important job for these dogs, as rodents could spoil precious food stores. 

Irish Soft Coated Wheaten Terriers earned themselves the name “Poor Man’s Wolfhound” for their resourceful nature.

Irish Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier in Ireland

A active Wheaten Terrier.
A active Wheaten Terrier. (Photo: Svetlanistaya via Canva)

When other Irish terrier breeds, such as the Irish Terrier, and Kerry Blue Terrier started to become popular in Ireland and Britain during the end of the 19th and early 20th century, no such favoritism was found with the Irish Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier. 

In fact, this breed’s numbers steadily dwindled as more popular breeds became available, to a point around 1930 when Wheatens were heading towards extinction

At that point, two experienced Irish breeders saw the plight of this Irish dog breed and set about rescuing the Irish Soft Coated Wheatens before it was too late. Dr. Gerard Pierce and Patrick Blake were mainly interested in Kerry Blue Terriers, but focused their knowledge and efforts to preserve the Wheaten breed, with particular emphasis placed on the working traits rather than visual aesthetics of the breed.

In 1934, they founded the Wheaten Terrier Club and overcame many challenges to demonstrate that the breed existed as a purebred. 

As the coat of the Wheaten is the main distinguishing feature from other dogs, it was difficult to find a name that could be agreed upon as some standard terrier wheaten colored dogs already existed. Both the Glen of Imaal Terriers and Irish Terriers could also be wheaten colored. 

On St. Patrick’s Day in 1937, the Irish Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier was officially recognized as a unique Irish breed by the Irish Kennel Club. From this point onwards, news about this breed slowly spread. Dogs were first imported to the United Kingdom at the end of the 1930s and to the United States in around 1947.

Irish Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier Coat Types

Three Irish Soft Coated Wheaten Terriers at a dog show.
Irish Soft Coated Wheaten Terriers at a dog show. (Photo: Ihar Halavach via Canva)

One of the most influential names related to Irish Soft Coated Wheaten Terriers was the late Maureen Holmes. This Irish woman dedicated a large part of her life to this breed and was a firm believer in the Irish Type of coat. Many of the early champions in Ireland belonged to her.

Soon after this breed was introduced to the United States some differences in the coat started to appear to the more typical Irish type. The heavier coat of the North American dogs often appeared fuller and was shaped in a more angular style than the Irish type. Other similar changes in the type of the coat from the dogs in the UK also appeared.  

While the Irish coat is flatter and has a glowing sheen to it, the heavier coats are fluffier. These differences are most evident when a puppy transitions to an adult coat. As the heavier, “teddy bear” coat matures faster, this was an advantage for owners who want to participate in dog shows at an early age. The Irish type coat on the other hand can take up to 2.5 years to fully mature and in the meantime the dog can look a little gangly with its long legs. 

The coats of show dogs must conform to the breed standards as outlined in the US, UK or Irish standards. What is very clear is that no coat should be considered wooly, cottony, or frizzy. There are still plenty of discussions between judges about what exactly is the right coat type. 

Irish Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier Breed Recognized

In 1937, the Irish Kennel Club was the first to recognize this breed. The Kennel Club of the UK followed suit several years later in 1942. It was only in 1973 that this breed was awarded breed status in the United States by the American Kennel Club.

 

Irish Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier Today

Today, Irish Soft Coated Wheaten Terriers in Ireland typically have the Irish coat type. There are not many breeders outside of Ireland that specialize in this coat type. The dogs found in the UK and the US have the heavier style coat

Regardless of which coat type the Wheaten has, this temperament and characteristics of this warm, friendly and loveable breed are the same. As a terrier, this breed has a natural high level of intelligence, but not the typical snappy, yappy characteristics that terriers are often noted for.  

While there has been a bit of revived interest in this breed of late, many people opt for more low maintenance dogs and there is a wide range to choose from from Miniature Bull Terriers, Staffordshire Bull Terriers, American Hairless Terriers and everything in between!

In Ireland, it is one of the few 9 Irish breeds that is not classified as vulnerable and it ranks as the most popular of the 9 Irish breeds in the United States (66 from 199 according to the 2021 American Kennel Club survey). 

While these dogs require a considerable amount of maintenance on their coat, they make great household pets and will be sure to keep the entire family active with their antics!

Native Irish Dog Breeds

The Irish Terrier is another well known Irish dog breed.
The Irish Terrier is another well known Irish dog breed. (Photo: Eudyptula via Canva)

The complete guide to Irish dog breeds will give you insights into these unique breeds from Ireland including the other long-legged terrier dogs such as the Kerry Blue Terrier and the Irish Terrier. For some more in-depth breed information and remarkable facts about their history, you can look at the individual breed guides with links below. 

The Irish Kennel Club recognizes 9 Irish dog breeds. They are as follows:

Find out more about all 9 breeds in the Guide to Irish Dogs

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Please note that this article is only for general information purposes about the Irish Soft Coated Wheaten breed and should not be used as a substitute for health, medical and pet care advice from veterinary specialists.